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May 27, 2024
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Dick Tayler reflects on Commonwealth Games gold 50 years on

It was one of the greatest and most unexpected results of the 1974 Commonwealth Games, Dick Tayler’s gold in the 10,000 metres.

Last night the 50th anniversary of that result was celebrated with The Dick Tayler Commemorative 10k National Championships – renamed for the night to honour him.

“I’d love for my mum and dad to still be alive and know that their little boy, people are remembering what happened 50 years ago,” said Tayler.

The day was somewhat of a walk down memory lane.

Just like it was 50 years ago, Tayler was picked up in the 1974 Commonwealth Games car and chauffeured to the athletics track.

“We just loved being in those, we loved being in them.

“Now and again, we could have a drive in them if we were good – which I was good all the time,” Taylor laughed whilst looking over Dunedin’s Caledonian track.

But it was 50 years ago at Christchurch’s QEII Park where Tayler rose to the top of the Commonwealth in just his third time ever running the 10km race.

A feat thanks in large part to his legendary coach Arthur Lydiard.

“He rang my parents just to make sure they were going to be there that day,” said Tayler.

“He said, ‘don’t tell Richard I’ve rung you, but you need to be there, you be there because something special is going to happen’.”

That is the thing that makes Tayler most emotional, he was able to achieve what his coach knew he was capable of.

Lydiard coached some of New Zealand’s greatest runners like Sir Peter Snell, Sir Murray Halberg and even Sir John Walker to greatness.

“To be able to do it for him was so special, he had tears in his eyes I had tears in my eyes. Oh, it was so special, so special.”

Half a century on that moment was celebrated at last night’s 10km National Championships.

Those inspired by Tayler made the trip and tried to replicate Dick’s famous kick. In the women’s 10km final it was a close finish but Anneke Arlidge beat out Brigid Denneh.

“We watched Dick’s race last night and I was thinking of his kick, and she was thinking of it and it helped us through to the finish,” said Arlidge.

Competitors were unsuccessful in chasing Tayler’s time of 27 minutes and 46.4 seconds, which is still the NZ Residents record.

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